Saying Goodbye—and Hello—to NCECF Board Members

At the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF), our board members play an integral role in the success of the organization by providing strategic direction, solid governance, financial accountability and oversight, and provide support and guidance to the staff. Our board members are a powerhouse of individuals in their own spheres of influence – educators, consultants, executive directors, doctors – that have come together to serve as champions so that each North Carolina child has a strong foundation for life-long health, education, and well-being supported by a comprehensive, equitable birth-to-eight ecosystem.

One of the reasons NCECF’s board is so strong is because it is continuously evolving and bringing new voices to the work. While it is always bittersweet to say goodbye to excellent board members, it also provides an opportunity to engage new talent. We honor and thank Dr. Sheresa Blanchard and Tracey Greene-Washington for their commitment and expertise as NCECF board members.

Sheresa brought her decades of experience as an early childhood practitioner in special education and early intervention and served unwaveringly as Chair of the Governance Committee for two years. As Chair of the Racial Equity Committee, Tracey’s thought partnership, expertise in systems-level change work, and deep knowledge on equity strengthened the board’s capacity to have intentional and meaningful conversations that address complex issues around systems of oppression that are negatively impacting young children and families of color. We thank both Sheresa and Tracey for their years of service to NCECF.

Beginning in January 2022, NCECF welcomes Dr. Margaret Annunziata and Kelli Ovies to NCECF’s board. “NCECF is privileged to welcome two brilliant women to our board of directors,” shares Muffy Grant, NCECF’s Executive Director. “Kelli Ovies and Margaret Annunziata bring with them a wealth of expertise in intellectual property law and community college administration respectively. They are both working mothers and understand the need to better support families in the workforce. We look forward to tapping into their deep wells of knowledge and wisdom.”

Dr. Margaret Annunziata currently serves as the President of Isothermal Community College (ICC). In this role, she works collaboratively with community leaders to promote economic and social mobility for the residents of Rutherford and Polk counties and the surrounding region in western North Carolina. Her strategic vision and commitment to providing equitable access, opportunities, and outcomes for students resonate in the college’s focus on increasing educational attainment, career advancement, and economic wellbeing for those whom the college serves.

Prior to joining the team at ICC, Dr. Annunziata served as Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Davidson-Davie Community College.  Leading an outstanding team of faculty and staff across curriculum and non-credit programs, Dr. Annunziata worked in collaboration with business and industry, K-12, and university partners to build and sustain opportunities for students to earn educational credentials and skills that positioned them for highly skilled, rewarding careers.

Dr. Annunziata holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Wingate University, a master of science in human development & family studies from Auburn University, and a bachelors’ degree in psychology and economics from Bellarmine University.  Margaret is grateful for the support of her husband, Ken, and their three children, Nicholas, Michael, and Sydney.

Kelli Ovies is an attorney with Womble Bond Dickinson in Raleigh who advises clients on trademark and copyright matters. She regularly prepares and prosecutes trademark and copyright applications, conducts and reviews trademark clearance searches, responds to USPTO Office Actions, and assists with maintaining the U.S. and international trademark registrations.

Prior to joining Womble Bond Dickinson, Kelli practiced at Forrest Firm and Smith Anderson. At both firms, in addition to handling intellectual property matters, Kelli helped her clients negotiate and draft many types of commercial contracts. She also worked on a variety of commercial litigation matters, including one in which her client obtained a $37 million judgment at trial in a commercial contract case, one of the largest jury verdicts in North Carolina history. While at Forrest Firm, Kelli secured the Family Forward NC trademark.

Kelli received her law degree from Duke University School of Law in 2006. Before deciding to go to law school, she worked for the North Carolina Association of REALTORS, where she was the primary writer and editor for its monthly member magazine. Kelli and her husband, Joe, have two sons, Caleb (13) and Jacob (10), and two kittens, Lila and Pearl.